The Office of Personnel Management plans to improve the user experience at USAJOBS with several updates to the website’s job search function and its application process, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday.
OPM‘s top priority is evaluating the interface that links the website with agencies’ talent acquisition systems (TASs). Then the agency can decide where applicant information and documents should best be collected: USAJOBS or an agency’s TAS.
Agency officials told GAO that common complaints from applicants involved challenges with uploading documents. Separately the Department of Justice reported collecting resumes, human resources forms and veterans’ discharge papers twice through USAJOBS.
“OPM officials said that they have given this issue a lot of attention and that reducing redundant documentation requirements to enhance user experience is an ongoing effort,” reads the report to Congress. “OPM expects to continue working on these changes and to deploy incremental changes as part of regular updates to USAJOBS.”
Improvements to search
OPM also plans to test a search capability in fiscal 2021 that will allow job seekers to see recommended opportunities based on their stated skills. Testing will occur on the Open Opportunities section first, before being added to the main USAJOBS site, according to GAO.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is also working with OPM to streamline veterans’ preference adjudication in fiscal 2021 by allowing them to import and verify data on military service and disability into USAJOBS. The system would then automatically assess veterans’ eligibility for categories of preference, inform them of the positions and send results to the relevant agencies if they claimed preference. Hiring agencies will no longer need to manually adjudicate claims, per the report.
A final update OPM is making is adding a “job status” indicator to every announcement in early fiscal 2021 for improved transparency and accountability. The indicator will be publicly displayed and accessible, detailing the date the announcement closed, number of applicants and number of people selected, according to GAO.
OPM has been developing the capability since at least November, when officials told FedScoop of “lots of complications behind the scenes” hindering regular job status updates — namely the lack of alignment between USAJOBS and each agency’s TAS.
GAO found OPM generally tracks key website performance measures suggested by Digital.gov like page views, percentage of users using search and overall customer experience since USAJOBS’s 2016 redesign. OPM also surveys users about their USAJOBS experience in accordance with Office of Management and Budget guidance, in addition to performing its own usability testing, focus groups and analysis of data from help desk submissions.
OPM determined that USAJOBS user experience varied when it came to the job search and application process, prompting the creation of the Hiring Paths feature in 2017 describing eligibility and guiding job seekers.
More recently OPM shifted to a more secure login method; added search filters and keyword autocomplete; reduced duplication and jargon in job announcements; provided job seekers guidance on applying and federal hiring authorities; and highlighted jobs linked to COVID-19 pandemic response.